Yelp is all about connecting people with great local businesses, and we recognize that these businesses — led by artisans, doers and creators of all kinds — are the lifeblood of our communities. Behind every business is a great story. The Tucson Makers + Shakers blog series showcases local makers, artisans and innovators. Find out what makes them tick and discover why they love being in business in Tucson.
Allow us to introduce Anita Goodrich, owner and creative genius behind Bottle Rocket Design & Glassware. Her products are a beautiful mix of practical use art and science. Made from a combination of concrete and recycled glass, she creates each recipe and process for her products from scratch.
How did you get your start?
I had a small home improvement business and I was pretty happy with doing that.
What was the moment you knew your brand had to happen?
People say “the universe is working in my favor” and I’ve always thought that was kind of a myth. There’s two incidences in my life where I have thought that is true, the universe was working in my favor. One of them is this art, the other was when I adopted my son. This came about when I was doing home improvement and I did all this research on concrete and knew it was just something I had to do. I tabled it. I didn’t do anything with it and it sat as something I thought I would get to one day. I just didn’t know how to make that leap. Years later, I was working on other things and I came back to it while researching about what to do with broken glass. All of a sudden these two things just came together and it made sense. I had been preparing for this.
What has been your biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge, truthfully, is myself. I’m kind of my own worst enemy. I know what I’m good at. I know what I struggle with, and I struggle with the business side of things. The branding, focusing, and being productive on a daily basis. I can go down rabbit holes of wanting to make and develop new products. In the meantime I have things I’m supposed to really be doing in order to keep my business going. My struggle is being practical enough to know what sells and getting those things out there to retailers, and not being afraid of that happening. I’m embracing that more now and getting better with it.
What do you do to make sure you are regularly inspired?
I look at other people’s work, not just concrete people, leather workers, painters, jewelry makers, clothing designers. I try to get a vibe from people’s work and the energy that they’re experiencing from it. I look at how people see design and see what they took and how they made something special. They put colors together that are intriguing. Also taking breaks. It took a long time for me to learn to take breaks, even when I was working in other fields, I had a tendency to think “just keep working… work, work, work”. It took me the long time to realize the value of taking a break and changing my scenery a little bit. I can’t just force something out. I also work outside all the time. I have to be outside at some point. It always feels good to me to be in nature.
What’s the most helpful piece of customer feedback you’ve received?
I use the glass as a construction component, I don’t necessarily put the glass in the concrete as an aesthetic. I like the concrete. When I first started I rarely did anything to the concrete other than smoothing out rough edges and things like that. I had family members and people that were regular customers, asking where the glass was because they couldn’t see it in the concrete. I was looking at the glass as a thing that I was using in the concrete to make sure the glass wasn’t getting thrown away. I really liked the design of what I was making and the concrete, but people wanted to see the glass. Kind of reluctantly, at first, I started showing more of the glass. I think that makes a big difference in how I make things because there’s a big process to bring the glass forward out of the concrete. It changes the look completely. I like both. I have learned that bringing the glass out is a look I like as well.
What’s your advice for other makers, business owners or someone who wants to start a small business?
Find something that you really enjoy doing and flush it out. Give it a chance. Don’t get lost in hunting for success and lose what you like to do. You don’t want to lose what you care about because you’re chasing the success of something. I don’t really think that works. Little Toro Designs is a great example because she has flushed her design out. She doesn’t have to put her name on it anywhere because you just know that it’s her’s. She has really flushed her skill and design out. It’s beautiful.
What makes you most excited about having your business in Tucson?
I am a Tucson native. I was born at St. Mary’s Hospital and live a few blocks away from there now. I’ve been in Tucson for most of my adult life and I’m in love with Tucson. I choose to live in Tucson even though I didn’t grow up here (I came back as an adult). I love the neighborhood I live in and I love how easily accessible the desert is. I love doing business in Tucson. I think Tucson has a small town atmosphere. I asked Street Taco if i could set up a bin there to collect bottles and they were like “Yeah, of course!” There’s a hot dog vendor down the street and he let me collect bottles from him too. There’s tons of local businesses supporting local businesses. Popcycle supported me, a person who makes things. I make a product here in Tucson. They sell to people who are local. It’s a full cycle thing. We haven’t had that type of cycle since I was a kid. People didn’t buy things from makers anymore for a long time. Things are imported. The businesses in Tucson are willing to do that and are embracing it more and more. I really think there’s a sense of community where people here are going to try to make it work. Popcycle is a good example: they are as excited about your success as they are about their own. Tucson has that too. I feel connected in that “we’re gonna work things out together and come up together.”
If customers/readers come away knowing just one thing about your business, what do you want that message to be?
I think, as an artist, that when I sell my product people are as attached to your story as they are to what you’re making. They love to know you. The works I have in my house are by artists that I love. I love them as people and how they walk through this world. I love what they do and their energy. I hope my customers think that too. That the piece they are taking home has a lot of good energy in it.
You can also find Bottle Rocket Designs at a range of local stores, including new downtown addition Rosie’s Barket, Popcycle, & English Spa & Salon. Anita also sells her designs at the Sunday St. Philips Plaza Farmers Market, 4th Avenue Street Fair, Cultivate Tucson, and the Mercado San Agustin holiday Bazaars.
By Amanda Schreiber, Yelp Tucson Marketing Assistant.